By Walter Broeckx
Sometimes if I say that I am an Arsenal fan it makes people raise their eyebrows. How on earth do you become a follower of a team like Arsenal when you live in another country. This is a question I also have often been asked by Englishman. Well to tell you the truth… I don’t know but it is something like falling in love. Now falling in love is not the hard thing. To stay in love that’s the hard thing.
I must confess that in the early days, 1979 that was, it wasn’t easy to follow the Arsenal from another country. For young Gooners, all over the world now, it maybe a shock but in those days, there was no internet, no ceefax on the TV, and in my country we didn’t have the BBC on our TV.
So in the beginning there just was the newspapers. On Monday morning I could read in the newspaper: Arsenal – West Ham 1-0. No clue who scored, how the game went, just one line in the newspaper to give you a good or a bad feeling.
After visiting London with my school in 1979 we had the luck that on our national broadcaster they showed the cup final live every year. And that year we won the 5 minutes final against Man who didn’t IOU that much at the time. I still remember the three of us: my brother, a school friend and me shouting and screaming when we got that 3rd goal. After the game we made our own lap of honour in my brother’s Mini cooper with our scarves outside the car in Antwerp. Jesus Christ this looks silly now….and so long ago.
And after that I had to do again with the one-line in the newspapers for some time. And then we got lucky. Our government decided that all those antenna’s on the roofs of houses was disgusting and they decided to give us cable TV. And even more luck later when they put on the BBC on the cable. So along came Match of the Day with Jimmy Hill. You can laugh at it now but he was my favourite TV personality for years.
And from that day I really could see the Arsenal play on an almost weekly base. It was in short versions but what the heck I was sitting every Saturday in front of the TV, well past midnight, and enjoying the victories and bemoaning the defeats. And so the love and the passion grew every week. But then live took over and you know “married with children” took over and I still watched MOTD but the dream of visiting Highbury got buried under the daily and costly life.
After the Hillsborough disaster then the authorities decided that stadiums had to be all seating and it became almost impossible to visit Arsenal. To go to London you then had to fly or go by train, a boat and another train to get to London. It looked as if London was on another planet.
Then things turned around for the good. The internet came, the tunnel under the Channel came, the high speed train came and most of all… the Emirates came. From less than 40.000 up 60.000 seats this was our chance. Thanks to the internet we met other fans in Belgium and Holland and we found out that the Arsenal Benelux fanclub existed. So now we go the Emirates twice a year and when we are lucky with the draw we even can go in our own country to see our beloved Arsenal.
So here I am, a father of four almost adult children, who goes with his kids to the Arsenal, who watches every game on whatever media it is possible and I must say that the love has changed over the years.
From a one-line newspaper fan to a Gooner, I give myself the permission to call myself a Gooner, that follows the Arsenal day and night. Sometimes I wonder that it is getting an obsession. I can’t go to bed without checking if everything is all right in London and with the lads. I have to write an article every day for our site in the Benelux. I don’t have to but I really feel bad if I’m not able to do so. I share the passion with my children and in our own little community we live upon the Arsenal waves. Loud shouting and laughter when we win and a very, very quiet funeral atmosphere when we lose.
Earlier this season I even found out that my wife, who has been hating football ever since I had my leg broken in an Eduardo style tackle when we had just met, and who almost never had looked at a game of football since that bad day had been watching the whole evening at the Standard – Arsenal game on TV. When the game was over my brother send text messages to his wife and I said to my sons: “ well your mother is in bed for some time so we don’t want to wake her up”. You cannot imagine how warm it felt round the heart that when we came home we found a note that said: “Luckily WE turned it round after that poor start “. Well it seems even my wife is getting the Arsenal feeling. That is even a greater miracle than the comeback in Liège.
Arsenal are about to buy eight new players. The new thinking is that we are permanently without eight players and so that has to be factored in. The current cropped list is Diaby, Eduardo, Gallas, Van Persie, Djourou, Arshavin, Gibbs, Merida.
The KGB in Fulham have got really fed up with A Cole and have sent their elite hit squad round to see him. They were quite amazed that when they announced who they were he started playing with his mobile phone. “These Inglish do strange things,” said Smashyr Facein. Mr Cole is in the North Middlesex hospital.
The FA are terribly upset about Rustenburg where apparently the squad is to be based for the World Bankruptcy Cup. The S African authorities were non-plussed by the complaints. “We said we would build a training centre here,” they said. “We never said we would do it on time. Can’t you postpone and come a little later?”
Roberto Mancity has ordered Carlos Kickerball to return to Mancheser from Argentina and start playing again. Carlos said in an email back, “Between you and me, only one is indispensable.” Meanwhile Ronaldiddlybo has settled back into Brazilian life and has told Roberto that he is not returning ever, never, no, not even then. And then he won’t. The owner, Sheikh Yerbooty, is said to be ready to walk out on the club, calling everyone “pesky foreigners” while admitting that winning the league by buying lots of players is harder than he thought, but it is not his fault.
Contrary to popular belief Phil Brown did appear on Sky Goals on Sunday. It was just that he was sitting on the floor talking to himself about Spitty’s defeat at West Ham.
Oh and Real Madrid have said to Lord Wenger that they would like him to manage the team, and he can bring Cesc with him if he likes.
Meanwhile, on the bench
Untold Arsenal invented rotational fouling
The England captain we signed from Kettering Town.
English football heads for disaster
Magritte and the Champions League
Why did Arsenal move to Highbury, and not somewhere else?
The Porto Free Kick – the Ref’s point of view
Arsenal in 1910 – the complete story in the most wonderful book about Arsenal ever written by anyone, ever, honest, I am not kidding you.
Untold Rumours (c) The Highly Unlikely Publishing Corp. 2010
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